Home » How to Motivate People to Do Good for Others: Erez Yoeli (Transcript)

How to Motivate People to Do Good for Others: Erez Yoeli (Transcript)

We have to eliminate these excuses and we do that by asking patients to log in and verify that they’ve taken their medication. If they don’t log in, we text them again. If they don’t log in, we text them yet again.

If, after three times, they still haven’t verified, we notify a team of supporters and that team will call and text them to try to get them back on the wagon. No excuses.

Our approach, which, admittedly, uses all sorts of behavioral techniques, including, as you’ve probably noticed, observability, it was very effective.

Patients without access to our platform were three times more likely not to complete treatment.

All right, you’ve increased observability, you’ve eliminated excuses, but there’s still a third thing you need to be aware of.

If you’ve been to Washington, DC or Japan or London, you know that metro riders there will be very careful to stand on the right-hand side of the escalator so that people can go by on the left.

But unfortunately, not everywhere is that the norm, and there’s plenty of places where you can just stand on both sides and block the escalator.

Obviously, it’s better for others when we stand on the right and let them go by, but we’re only expected to do that some places. This is a general phenomenon.


Sometimes we’re expected to do good and sometimes not, and it means that people are really sensitive to cues that they’re expected to do good in a particular situation, which brings us to the third and final item on our checklist: to communicate expectations, to tell people, “Do the good deed right now.”

Here’s a simple way to communicate expectations; simply tell them, “Hey, everybody else is doing the good deed.”

The company Opower sends people in their electricity bill a small insert that compares their energy consumption with that of people with similarly sized homes.

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And when people find out that their neighbors are using less electricity, they start to consume less. That same approach, it’s been used to get people to vote or give to charity or even reuse their towels in hotels.

What about this one? Here’s another way to communicate expectations; simply do it by saying, “Do the good deed” just at the right time.

What about this one? This ticker reframes the kind of mundane task of turning off the lights and turns it instead into an environmental contribution.

The bottom line is, lots of different ways to do this, lots of ways to communicate expectations. Just don’t forget to do it. And that’s it. That’s our checklist.

Many of you are working on problems with important social consequences, and sometimes you might need to motivate people to do more good. The tools you learned today can help you with this.

And these tools, they don’t require that you raise additional funds or that you develop any more fancy technologies. They just require harnessing reputations by increasing observability, eliminating excuses and communicating expectations.

Thank you.

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